Welcome to Staying Connected, the quarterly e-newsletter brought to you by Catholic Volunteer Network and the Catholic Apostolate Center. We hope this resource will inspire reflection and spark new connections for you and your fellow volunteer program alumni.

Our theme this issue is Simplicity - one
Ashley Guanzon, St. Joseph Worker Program, at Immaculate Conception School in L.A.
of the Four Pillars of Faith-Based Service. Typically, Simplicity means abandoning the material goods that we do not need. Many volunteer communities emphasize this aspect, whether it be choosing to travel by bicycle, eliminate Wi-Fi from the house, or repairing household items instead of replacing them. Of course, Simplicity can also mean reorienting the heart, mind and soul towards God and neighbor, by making intentional time for prayer and reflection, among other things.

How about you? Have these values affected your life and work since volunteering? Do you have a support network who will help you live simply and make time for the important things? Our prayer for you is that you may find Simplicity in all aspects of your life, and beneath the world's distractions, find your calling.

With fondness,

Catholic Volunteer Network & Catholic Apostolate Center

Welcome, and thank you for choosing service!

Simple Living & Oneness of Purpose
Reflection by Kevin Lopez Mader, Former Volunteer with Farm of the Child


Kevin at the Finca.

At the Finca del NiƱo (Farm of the Child), our mission manifests itself primarily in the lives of our kids. As the Honduran staff, Franciscan Sisters, and volunteers spend our days focused on the health, education, faith, and development of the kids under our care, we're constantly striving to live out that mission. But sometimes things will drive you nuts. Sometimes there will be struggle and pain and failure. And sometimes we'll lose track of the successes in the midst of that hurt.

Those are the times when we need to take a step back, to have a moment away from the normal schedule. We need to live life without a plan, to find time to rethink and replenish. Sometimes, we just need to hear God in the darkness and continue a forgotten conversation. Or we need to teach less math and English and more chess and bowling.

For that, we have the rainy season. It's our annual return to a simpler life...

Simple Living Resources
Reflections, Prayers, Scripture, and Quotes about Simplicity

Whether you are just beginning your volunteer journey, or reflecting after some distance from your experience, here are some resources we hope will enable you to conserve energy, grow closer to God, and strive for the essential.

Simple Living Leads to Spiritual Growth Click to view or print our Simplicity Reflection Guide - perfect for volunteer orientations, the start of Lent, or re-centering oneself post-volunteering.

Starting With A Story
Interview with John Lee, Podcaster and Former Precious Blood Volunteer

After serving with the Precious Blood Volunteers,
Former Volunteer John Lee
John Lee knew he wanted to keep alive the weekly story-sharing he had initiated within his volunteer community, which helped them all to connect. He brainstormed and "came across the idea of podcasting and felt that it could create that bridge!"

So John began writing, recording and producing a podcast called  Starting With A Story Episodes debut each Monday morning, where "John shares a wisdom story that covers topics from personal growth to life lessons to connecting with others."  John took the time to answer a few questions from CVN about his own story, his podcast, and his advice to volunteers looking to release their creativity...

Q: Tell us about the beginning of your volunteer story. Had you always planned on completing post-grad service?

A: In all honesty, post-grad service didn't cross my mind at all until my fall semester of Senior year, and it didn't actually become a legitimate pursuit until the Spring. I studied as a Mechanical Engineer and struggled to find a passion in what I was learning in class. I wasn't captivated by thermodynamics or manufacturing, but what I did know, was that I was fascinated with people. I knew that whatever I chose to pursue, I wanted to connect with others and try my best to make today a little better for someone else...

Events and Resources for Volunteer Alumni

New Webinar Resource from the Catholic Apostolate Center
Pastoral Accompaniment of Immigrants
Javier Bustamante, Executive Director of the  Office of  Cultural Diversity in the Archdiocese of Washington, presents on how parishes and Dioceses can accompany immigrants.   Click here to view.

Young Adult Weekend Retreats, Hosted by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement 
March 23 - 25, & December 7 - 9, 2018 - Garrison, NY
Are you asking the question, "What is God's purpose and direction for my life?" We all have a calling from God! We are called to a state of life such as married life, consecrated single life, priesthood, or religious life. Within each of these, we are called to our own unique mission to serve the Church and the world through choosing our work, commitments and lifestyle. How do I know I am following God's will for me through these choices? This retreat will help you discern God's direction for your life and teach practical discernment tools for your faith journey! We encourage single men and women between the ages of 18-40 to attend! Click here for details.
Post-Service Reflection Retreat / Workshops, by From Mission to Mission
Our retreats our designed to help former volunteers to honor their experiences, as well as learn how to move forward in a healthy way. It brings together others who have served, who understand and appreciate each other.  It gives people a safe place to reflect on and share their experiences. It offers a framework on how to integrate the experience so that it lives on.

2018 Workshop Schedule
  • April 12-15 in Chicago
  • June 21-24 in Chicago
  • October 11-14 in Philadelphia    
The workshop includes:  Telling the story of your experience;  Honoring the gifts of the experience;  Recognizing what needs healing from the experience;  Understanding and dealing with transition;  Integrating the experience.  Click here for details.

After Volunteer Experience (AVE)
AVE is a re-entry program sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati and an outreach to young adult women who have participated in postgraduate service domestically or internationally. Transition after a year or more of volunteer service can pose significant challenges. AVE provides a reflective space to integrate the volunteer experience and discern future directions in life and ministry.

What's provided Room, board and meals for 1-3 months in Southern New Mexico;    Intentional community with Sisters of Charity;    Program structure customized to participants needs;    Weekly volunteer experience at the border;    Spiritual Direction and overall health counseling;  Career planning and development.   Click here for more details.  

laptop_typing.jpg How has your service experience made an impact on your life?
Share your story as a Staying Connected contributor!

Did your volunteer experience influence your career choice? Have you found a unique way to stay connected to your community or service site? How do you continue to work for social justice? How has your prayer life changed? We want to hear from you! 

Get in touch with Mike McCormick at to learn more!